tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC August 28, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
this is "world news." and tonight, hurricane irene. e floloodss taking towns by surprise. an entire town wiped out. roaring waters, homes flooded, people trapped. dramatic rescues. and the powerful winds did travel up the coast. they gave the skycrepers of new york a break. but the power lines blew out. tonight, 4.5 million homes and businesses in the dark. the travel nightmare. airline passengers grounded across the continent. some for days. and the heroes of the hurricane, who kept a big city going when everyone else headed off to safety.
good evening and welcome to this special edition of "world news." all weekend, 65 million americans braced for an epic disaster of hurricane wind and water up and down the east coast. well, tonight, we know the wind died down, but hurricane irene is delivering on the water. a torrent of flash floods, an epic mess. and the president, moments ago and the white house, said the danger is not over. we are getting our first pictures of how serious the floods appear to be. word that one town in the catskims in upstate new york has disappeared. rivers stillll rising. we'll show you cars, passengers escaping the torrent. and, the most ferocious winds did reach 115 miles per hour. but we learned that what ended up killing the most people was a hazard in their own backyard. and the power? how long before the power comes back on? 4.5 million homes and businesses
are facing darkness. our team is out tonight, they've been up day after day in the wind and rain. and they're here to answer the big questions here tonight. and we'll begin with anchor david muir, who is in elmsford, new york. david? >> reporter: diane, good evening. we're north of new york city tonight and you can see in this town here, they are entirely under water. all of these families were rescued today by boat. this, as another picture of dedestate emerges in upstate new york. tonight, the dramatic pictures coming from update norm in the town of wyndam. the fire chief safes the town center is, quote, wiped out. this school bus, submerged. the waters there slamming up against this bridge. as irene barrelled toward so many major cities overnight, philadelphia, new york and boston, no one quite knew what the hurricane would bring. but irene would prove deadly. more than a dozen deaths across
eight states tonight. and power is out for those 4 million. but we would all learn very quickly it was not the skyscrapers, not the subways. they survived it. at daybreak, the steps and towns all around new york. in queens, new york, power lines crisscrossed the streets. in rosedale, cars under water, nearly vanishing. irene's rain came so quickly, it swept drivers off the road. in new jersey, a 20-year-old woman desperately calling her boyfriend and 911 from her car. her body was found eight hours later. that car carried 150 feet off the road. >> i want people to understand that this is not over. while the storm has weakened as it moves north, it remains a dangerous storm that continues to produce heavy rains. >> reporter: in elmsford, new york, we were taken to a neighborhood where the water is still rising. >> we've taken 11, 12 people out of houses so far today. >> reporter: a mother and her daughter and their dogs, rescued by raft. what is her name? and then, her son, the last
person trapped her, car ripped out, too. >> first time that i ever flooded in the house like this. >> reporter: how far up is the water? >> everything's floating. >> reporter: the bed's floating? >> yeah, it's a mess. >> reporter: his dog, rattled, but okay tonight. so, this is you here? and it's deja vu for teresa. here home flooded after floyd more than a decade ago. she raised her entire home five feet but it still wasn't enough. that's her mailbox right there, number 6. >> this is all within the last few hours. and the water is still rising. >> reporter: and in long beach, new york, they'll have to rebuild this bidding, carried away. back in this new jersey neighborhood where the waters are rising, neighbors waited to check on friends and family. >> i know people are here. >> reporter: we'll tell them you're okay. >> thank you. >> reporter: diane, all the families rescued today are now staying with family and friends. the power out herer and for millions in the northeast up and down the coast, in fact. and by some estimates, the power
won't be back on for days and weeks, diane. >> all right, david, thank you, all over that flood zone tonight. as david just indicated, you didn't have to be on the coastline to be in danger from the water. abc's dan harris now tells us what's happening in philadelphia tonight. dan? >> reporter: hey, diane. i want to show you something. look at this banner hanging over the street. it is advertising kayak tours. but tonight, you could easily take a kayak down the street itself. the extent of the flooding here in the philadelphia area, always over in south jersey, really surprised a lot of people and necessitated some truly dramatic rescues. violent, new jersey. five teenagers whose boat capsized, hanging on for their lives until firefighters r s pu them to safety. >> we didn't realize the current was as strong as it was. as we were coming up, we realized, it's getting strong. >> reporter: white marsh
township, pennsylvania, an elderly couple rescued. north philadelphia, a building containing a chinese restaurant and a family home collapsed due to heavy rains. nobody got hurt. many people in these parts assumed the coastould get the worst of irene. but while the beach communities did get hit, it was the suburbs, some 50 miles inland, that really got nailed. and while the winds were bad, knocking down this enormous tree, for example, it was the water that did the real damage. the storm dumped 5.7 inches of rain in 18 hours, more than this area usually gets in a month. today, the skikle river crested at its highest river since 1869. it's like the river is running down -- >> a river on main street right now. >> reporter: this river is, by no means, the only river posing a threat to surrounding communities tonight. throughout the northeast, there are rivers and creeks that are rising. some of them, diane, expected to
crest at record levels on monday and tuesday. so, unfortunately, this is a gift from irene that will keep on giving. back to you. >> all right, dan. and, of course, even though the wind from hurricane irene gave the big cities and sky scrapers a break, the full battering of that wind hit north carolina. ferocious 115-mile-per-hour wind. and abc's matt gutman, who has been on hurricane watch for five full days traveling with irene, is in duck, north carolina, tonighgh matt? >> reporter: hurricane irene landed here, hard. >> we're in the strongest part of the eye wall. >> reporter: storm chaser reed timer took us to ground zero. it's almost impossible to comprehend the force of this wind right now. we're on top of a bridge about 90 feet up. 1 100-mile-per-hour guststs and is all intensifying. in a couple of minutes, we're
going to see some calm inside the eye. >> strongest winds i've ever experienced. >> reporter: so strong, falling trees and branched killed at least seven people. in new port news, virginia, a tree toppled into an apartment, killing a boy, just 11 y yrs old. his mother survived but took an hour for rescuers to cut through power lines to recover him. downed trees cut electricity to more than half a million people in north carolina alone. and diane, this evening, we've learned that the town of hatteras has been cut off, along with its 2,50 inhab tapts from the main part of the out eer banks. it's not just wind, but water that can become a hazard. trees like this, the roots become water logged, they can just flop down on the ground. dead trees can break apart in the wind and become like projoke times. experts say if you have any questions about the health of your trees, just cut them down.
diane? >> okay, matt, very good advice tonight. and we had a question all day long. as we know, hurricane irene did not deliver the power punch to new york city everyone predicted, fear for those sky crepers. so, we wondered what happened and what was learned from tracking this storm. let's bring in abc's weather editor sam champion. what happened, sam? >> reporter: good evening, diane. well, hurricane has three punches. the wind, the rain and the storm surge. and we really expected that this storm would follow the track it does but deliver all three of them in new york city. the thing we didn't expect is that irene would have three separate landfalls. north carolina, new jersey and then new york. on the third landfall, every time it hit land, the storm took a hit, as well. and the third landfall, it just split apart. all the winds going straight to the east side of the storm, offshore. and all that heavy rain being
thrown inland, delivering the flooding we're seeing right now. >> let me see if it understand this. it fololwed the track you thought it would follow but hit more land masses than you predicted? >> reporter: i'm sorry, diane, one more time. we have 60 mile per winds behind me right now. >> a last sort of, a footnote from irene for you tonight. so, it followewe the track you thought it was going to follow, it followed that path but it hit more land masses -- >> reporter: exactly. >> than up knew it would hit? >> reporter: yeah. we've got to remember that these things have to spin like a top to maintain their strength. and this one didn't stay over water. it was getting shredded by land. each time it made a landfall, that weakened the storm. and that last hit, boy, that wind just kind of short out on the east side of it and it became more of a coastal situation and all of that rain turned into flooding. >> going to change anything, going to change predictions from now on? >> reporter: i think we'll watch
them a lot more carefully and the hurricane center will probably learn to rachet these expectations down every time there's going to be a hit with the storm. >> okay, sam, thank you, out there where it is still gusting up down in battery park. and new england, of course, took the last punch from irene. a lot of concerned tourists still vacationing there on the coast, especially cape cod. and abc's david kerley is along the water there. david? >> reporter: good evening, diane. irene's winds are still here, bringing some chop to what is a normally calm bay. and high tide is just a couple of hours away. worry that's going to bring another surge back onshore. irene barrelled into new england, no longer a hurricane, but packing plenty of power, pushing around people and pushing massive amounts of ocean water onshore. abc's ashleigh banfield in stanford, connecticut. >> the storm is hitting coastal connecticut and while it's not
necessarily a rain story anymore, the wind story is making it a water story. huge volumes of water are just crashing inland. >> reporter: the winds came right up the gut of the harbor here, throwing a sailboat onshore, cutting power and leaving an offduty police officer worried about the coming high tide. not the wind. you think the high tide later tonight -- >> the storm surge. at the back end of the storm. 5 to 11 feet at high tide. going to be full moon high tide. that's my concern. >> reporter: and it's not just coastal water. up to eight inches of rain is straining dams in western massachusetts. swelling rivers to the edge of their banks. several communities have been ordered to evacuate. and three small dams have already been breeched here in massachusetts. and diane, once again, that high tide, just a couple of hours away. >> all rigig, so more water on the way. thank you, david kerley. and, of course, the hurricane caused that big mess on the ground and the danger on the
ground, and it has created a nightmare for a lot of people trying to fly. a lot of flights canceled. air travel across the country is going to have to wait days and days to get where they want to go, and here's abc's bianna golodryga. >> reporter: this woman was supposed to be unpacking her suitcase at boston university tonight, getting ready for the new school year. instead, she and her father are living out of suitcases at a hotel near the los angeles airport, their flight canceled indefinitely. they are among hundreds of thousands of americans stranded across the country tonight. >> i've been working so hard to get out. >> reporter: this woman is stuck at her home in new york. her choice? put off her trip to her native sweden or fork over nearly $2,000. >> and i called back again to book a new ticket and then it was like three times the cost. >> reporter: more than ,000 flights were canceled this weekend. this is what the skies look like
on the east coast on a typical day. and here's what it looks like today. airports in the northeast are gradually gearing up tonight. but many are having problems getting airport workers tohe airports with mass transit shut down. so, it will be days before the skies return to normal. but good news for this woman. we just heard she got a seat this wednesday, just five days after she was planning to go. just five days. and abc news reached out to the major airlines including delta and american. all have begun to resume service in the mid-atlantic, however, flight service to new york and several other airports in the northeast remain suspended through at least noon monday so you should check with your airline before you go to the airport. >> everyone patient? >> reporter: right now. we'll see what happens on day two, three or five. >> all right, thank you. and still ahead on "world news" this sunday, we thought we'd take you out into the streets in the city that never sleeps last night, hunkering down for the hurricane, talking
with the unsung heroes working through the storm. and, in other news today, what may be the biggest blow to al qaeda since the death of osama bin laden. [ woman ] we take it a day at a time. that's how it is with alzheimer's disease. she needs help from me. and her medication. the exelon patch -- it releases medication continuously for twenty-four hours. she uses one exelon patch daily
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irene, thousands of other people turned out to help get a big city through the night. so, here we are in new york. it's the time they said it's getting ready to move in. and sure enough, here is the rain. and you can see, there are few cabs, a few diners open, but really not much else right now. as the storm was bearing down, we roamed around the city. and found ambulances and the workers inside ready to brave anything. tell me, are you out all night? what are you doing? >> yes, we will be out all night. >> reporter: beth israel's emergency room staffed up and preparing fofothe worse. are you full up tonight? they're still calling? >> how you doing, diane? >> reporter: sod goo to see you. and downtown, a homeless shelter at capacity for those who needed it. this is a daughter who moved from california four days ago to begin her new college life. this is her mother, who stepped off a boat in the caribbean and wound up here for the night. >> i mean, this is amazing.
i cannot even tell you. we have everything we need. >> reporter: volunteers poured in to help. even doctors, veterinarians. coming to look after your dog while you got some sleep. lucky dog. literally. >> try to keep them entertained and comfortable. >> reporter: and it wasn't just in new york. all along the coast, 14,000 national guard troops on the shore. families timing sandbags in annapolis. friends mopping up each other's homes in north carolina. and through the night, we read ththe tweets from the 65 million-person hurricane community. one of them, braving the storm from the 19th floor. another, sandbags in front of the doors, boards on lower windows. and we watched your home videos. >> look at that rain! oh, my gosh. >> reporter: last night, we decided to track one of the tweets down. she tweeted us just a few
minutes ago and said she has big windows and they are afraid of the glass upstairs. hi, i'm diane. if the wind comes, it can't come straight down the street. >> we have backpacks ready to go. we're nervous about being so high up. >> reporter: nerves on edge. but as we walked the streets last night -- still out? people are hiding in their close elements right now. it seems new york is still a city that never sleeps, or stops eating, or caring for its down during a storm. big city, big heart. and when we come back, some last minute heroics. a big win for some little guys. a walkoff home run. a big win for some little guys. a walkoff home run. go usa. finally, there choice for my patients with an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, or afib, that's not caused by a heart valve problem. today we have pradaxa to reduce the risk of a stroke caused by a clot.
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abc2news. com oo and we have word tonight, we may have surpassed a record. at 65 million people, it seems, by estimates, more people were hit by hurricaca irene than have ever been hit by a single storm in the history of the united states. and we're monitoring the effects of that storm around the clock. "good morning america" will have a complete wrap up tomorrow. and you cacafind the latest any time at abcnews.com. i hope to see you right back here tomorrow night. for all of us at abc news, thank you for being with us. and we want to leave you now with some of those unforgettable images of the fury of hurricane